Top tips for teaching coding
If you’ve never taught coding before, the thought of taking on an entirely new subject and teaching it to a classroom filled with technology-proficient students might be a daunting prospect. But coding is simply another language, one that gives you the power to communicate with technology, asking it to perform a variety of tasks and functions. Here are some top tips for teaching computing to help you learn as you go.
Coding is a recent venture for everyone in the classroom. Although curriculum may guide you through the basics of what you need to teach, getting hands-on and experimenting alongside your students is the most fun and effective way to get to grips with the subject. You can get involved with other teachers who are learning to code, through social media, communities, and other digital forums. There are huge numbers of teachers online who are sharing their experiences and advice, so it’s well worth joining these conversations.
One of the most important things to remember when coding is that when things go wrong, it’s not the end of the world. It can even be a good thing. A key component of coding is learning how to debug algorithms and commands so that they function properly. Even when things don’t work the way you’d originally hoped, your students will be learning from trial and error. Building this resilience is critical for your students.
Connect the dots
Looking at coding from a cross-curricular point of view can also be helpful in making real-life connections. For instance, you could relate the coordinates used in mathematics and geography to computer code. Much like a code, the data points work together as an instruction of where to find a specific location. Linking to instances of code being used in day-to-day situations can also help to spark your students’ imaginations. For example, have you ever thought about how traffic lights work? By pressing the crossing button, you’re effectively sending a command to the lights to change. Some crossings use sensors to determine how much traffic there is and whether it’s safe to cross.
With the amount of technology being used in all aspects of life, there are a multitude of opportunities presented by a knowledge of coding. Why not ask your students what they would design if they could create a computer program for anything? You might be surprised by the different and exciting ideas they come up with. Perhaps a code to tidy your room when it gets too messy, or a program that helps you to choose which movie to watch? Who knows, maybe one day, they’ll be able to build it and turn it into a reality.
Get hands on
Getting hands on with computing allows students to see the tangible results of what they’re writing on the screen. You could attach a light and sensor to the computer, so that when students place their hand over the sensor, the bulb illuminates, or perhaps use robotics to demonstrate a list of commands in sequence. Allowing students to build models that can be programmed to perform different tasks can be beneficial, as it brings together the real-life elements of computing with the benefits of cross-curricular learning. Using LEGO® Education WeDo or LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3, for example, you could build vehicles that move a specific distance, or a model that demonstrates a topic, like pollination in life sciences, or earthquakes in geography.
Coding is a fantastic subject for both teachers and students. It’s relevant to real life, creative, and can be a lot of fun.
Need tips for teaching coding? Check out our cheat sheet with top tips for teaching coding here.